(CBS) Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant had his first official baseball meeting with manager Joe Maddon on Monday morning at spring training in Mesa, Ariz.
Because you were wondering, no, they didn’t talk about whether Bryant would be the team’s starting baseman in the April 5 opener. That discussion will be for another time.READ MORE: Chicago Area Companies And Consumers Feeling The Effects Of The Global Microchip Shortage
“Just what I need to work on,” Bryant said of the meeting’s message.
As it sits, the Cubs have a host of players to consider at third base after the offseason trade of Luis Valbuena to the Astros. Arismendy Alcantara could see time at third as a super utilityman, Mike Olt “will do whatever they want” as he competes for a roster spot and whoever doesn’t take over as the primary second baseman — Javier Baez or Tommy La Stella — could get a look at the hot corner as well.
Bryant, of course, is the name everyone talks about most. He’s enjoying the opportunity that awaits, calling it a “friendly competition” in making the roster out of spring training.
“It definitely is friendly competition,” Bryant said. “Because when you start putting all that pressure on yourself, you kind of lose touch as to why you’re playing this game. It’s because it’s fun, and it’s always been fun. I really take that attitude — I can’t speak for anybody else. I really try to go out there and have as much fun as I can.”
“I have a good opportunity in front of me. I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can, you know, compete with my friends out there and make it be friendly competition.”READ MORE: COVID-19 In Illinois: Lowest Daily Coronavirus Case Count And Infection Rate In More Than Six Weeks
Service time concerns continue to make it more likely than not that Bryant starts the season at Triple-A Iowa, then gets called up several weeks into the year. If the Cubs hold off a bit, they’ll have contract control of Bryant through the 2021 season instead of the 2020 season.
Bryant’s goal is to make it as tough of a decision on the Cubs brass as he possibly can.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the big leagues, and yeah, I feel like I’m pretty close now,” Bryant said. “You know, I still have some things to work on. I think I’m going to use this spring training as a way to go out there and get better in those areas and see where I’m at at the end of it.”
Getting better defensively is a focus for the 23-year-old Bryant, who is the reigning consensus Minor League Player of the Year and who was recently named Baseball America’s top prospect.
“I’ve always said I can improve in all areas, but I think a lot of it is defense — just to kind of sure it up over there at third base,” he said.MORE NEWS: 'I Hope Good Comes Of It': Some Chicagoans Getting Two Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Doses
“I know I have a lot to prove on the field.”